Friday, August 25, 2006

DIVINE BY CHOICE


This cover was done for the second book in the series by P.C.Cast, Luna Books, soon to be released. Maria, the same model from the first cover, portrays a heroine now at home with her divinity. She stands in front of an ancient tree, a portal into the other world where she is a goddess. This was done without having read the book, so I just imagined, based on a spare description, what the scene was like. There's a long-running dispute about how accurate the cover artist should be to the author's story. I've witnessed authors and editors holding up production because an item of clothing was the wrong color, but just as extreme, covers that don't have anything to do with the story inside! Some sort of happy medium is best, where the artist has license to interpret the scene and give it visual excitement, but also is reigned in a bit, so that the illustration really is about the story. The challenge for the artist is to find a way of summing up the scene in an image, without getting lost in slavish worrying about every detail.
It works best for me when I read the story and can visualize the characters, setting and action. I think there is usually a dramatic point in the story that might lend itself to imaging, but the spirit of the book has to be considered. Is it an action-packed adventure,or a thoughtful, poignant love story? These would require very different approaches! That love story might be best hinted at, with a subtle image, like a hand lifting a tea cup, or a beautiful scene that has a poetic connection to the book. The illustrator also should remember his or her image will help sell the book. So in that sense, accuracy to the story is less important than who is the intended reader. I've never liked this part of the creative process, because I think all sorts of people respond to good images. But there is a reality that can't be ignored! Readers picking up a book that has tough guys and explosions on the cover, would be upset to find a gentle story about a woman finding her true love, nor would the reader be happy who picks up a book showing laces, flowers and sunshine, only to find a book about monstrous flesh-eating aliens!
Why I don't like to pigeon-hole the intended reader too much, is because these conventions become stale very quickly. You can see this phenomenon in book stores, where all the books in a certain genre take on a look that is incredibly similar. They all are using the same symbols. Adirondack chairs are big right now. Check it out!

7 comments:

PC Cast said...

I think this is my favorite of all my book covers. You absolutely captured the essence of this book, and of Shannon. I love it love it love it!

Thank you so much James!

PC Cast said...

p.s. James, is this a digital imagine, too, as was the cover of Divine by Mistake? And did you have the lovely model stand in front of a tree that actually looked like this?

I adore what she is wearing, by the way.

james Griffin said...

PC, Thanks for your posts! I'm so glad you're happy with your book cover! It means so much to me. You've got me thinking it might be interesting to show the "before" shot of Maria. There was no tree, but just a blank wall. we had a fan on the fabric and an assistant was lifting the ends to help it along. The tree is made up from reference on several ancient trees and the stones were just plain made up. I am really looking forward to the sequel in this series!

PC Cast said...

I'd LOVE to see the "before" shot. It amazes me that you can make something so beautiful out of what really amounts to not much more than an outline. Hey...that's kinda like turning a rough, one page proposal (which is usually how I sell books) into a 100,000 - 150,000 word novel! What an interesting analogy!

Michele said...

I love this painting! And what really attracts me is the Parrish blue in the background.

M

Michele said...

I love this painting! And what really attracts me is the Parrish blue in the background.

M

james Griffin said...

Hi Michele! I'm so glad you liked it! The art director had asked me for something along the line of Maxfield parrish and I was more than happy to try. Very observant of you!
JG